Published on August 22nd, 2021 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
89th 24 Hours of Le Mans Has Started
Day or night, the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19 has the pace at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Under the orders of John Elkann, Chairman of Ferrari and Official Starter of the 89th 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 61 entrants have taken to the track for 24 hours of competition. The winner will cross the line at 16:00 today, Sunday.
The Porsche Sprint Challenge France kicked off this morning’s programme at 09:00 when the event’s 56 competitors gathered on the grid for their only race of the weekend. Twenty-year-old Lilou Wadoux-Ducellier from Northern France took victory in the 45-minute showdown after dominating every session of the Challenge.
Difficult weather conditions made an impact on the early phase of the Le Mans 24-hour race. Despite this, the Porsche works team and the customer squad WeatherTech Racing have managed to settle into promising positions.
The No. 79 car fielded by the American privateer team held third place over long stretches during the first four hours in the hotly contested GTE-Pro class. Due to an alternative pit stop strategy, the car fell back to fifth place just before the four-hour mark.
The two ca. 515 PS Porsche 911 RSR campaigned by the factory squad are running in positions four and seven after four hours. Gianmaria Bruni in the No. 91 and Kévin Estre in the No. 92 sister car were hampered by a less than ideal tyre choice and also became caught up in incidents.
Shortly before the start of the 89th edition of the endurance classic in France, heavy rainfall caused extremely slippery conditions on the 13.626-kilometre racetrack. In the beginning, the stewards of the meeting kept the safety car out on the circuit for two extra laps.
The asphalt then dried up so quickly that the rain-tyre-shod works cars came up against insufficient grip. Gianmaria Bruni was unable to avoid a slower LMP2 prototype. The side of the Italian’s No. 91 car sustained minor damages. His works driver teammate Kévin Estre lost ground after a spin and lost even more time with a brief excursion into the gravel trap after switching to slicks.
During a safety car phase after about three and a half hours, bad luck hit the crew of Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki and they lost almost two minutes to the top.
At the wheel of the No. 79 entry from WeatherTech Racing, the works driver Laurens Vanthoor gave a strong performance in the early phase. Faced with changing track conditions, the Belgian systematically worked his way up the order and handed the Porsche 911 RSR off to Earl Bamber after two stints.
For the next two hours, the New Zealander was only a few seconds off third place. Because of a longer pit stop, the American Cooper MacNeil is now running in fifth place. The identical vehicle fielded by the HubAuto Racing customer team currently holds eighth place.
In the GTE-Am category, the No. 88 pole-setting 911 of Dempsey-Proton Racing with Porsche Young Professional Julien Andlauer at the wheel initially retained the lead.
A lengthy pit stop, however, threw the vehicle back. The best-placed 911 RSR in the amateur class after four hours is Project 1’s No. 56 entry in position seven.